Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Boiler operator found to hold expired licence



Boiler operator found to hold expired licence

A security guard closes the entrance gate of the Chinese-owned garment factory that had a boiler explosion killing one and injuring seven Thursday last week in Phnom Penh.
A security guard closes the entrance gate of the Chinese-owned garment factory that had a boiler explosion killing one and injuring seven Thursday last week in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Boiler operator found to hold expired licence

Following a boiler explosion last week that killed one and injured seven others at a Levi Strauss & Co and C&A brand supplier in Phnom Penh, authorities yesterday said that the boiler operator – in addition to the boiler itself – had been working on an expired licence.

Phork Sovanrith, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, said that the licence for boiler operator Ou Von, who has been detained since Thursday, “expired the same day as the boiler [permit]”, in early February.

According to Sovanrith the ministry’s last inspection of the Zhen Tai garment factory occurred in early 2016.

What’s more, when the explosion occurred on Wednesday, he said, the boiler was unattended.

“[The operator] put a lot of wood into the boiler to keep the fire going when he left for lunch,” Sovanrith said, adding that “no matter what, the factory will need to be accountable and also the [operator]”.

Esther Germans, from the oversight program Better Factories Cambodia – which is investigating the incident alongside Levi’s and the authorities – yesterday noted in an email that “we are only aware of one worker being certified to operate the boiler”.

William Conklin, the country director of labour right group the Solidarity Centre, said this presented a clear problem.

“What happens if he is sick or cannot come to work? Obviously they need backup or a team,” he said in an email.

Meanwhile, Ty Sophon, the husband of deceased worker Kor Samon, 48, yesterday said that Zhen Tai had provided him and his in-laws $12,000 in compensation, as well as money for funeral costs.

In a statement yesterday, Thorsten Rolfes, a spokesman for Dutch clothing brand C&A, said that the company’s last audit of Zhen Tai was in November and found no irregularities, adding that, nonetheless, the company has “launched an in-depth investigation” into the explosion.

“C&A’s Sustainable Supply Chain team is on-site to conduct its investigations and we will provide further information as it becomes available and when families are properly informed,” he wrote.

An individual answering a call at the number listed for a Zhen Tai representative yesterday denied being the representative, before going on to say she had resigned from the company.

Additional reporting by Jovina Chua

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from